One attractive feature of non-representational theory, underpinning its emergence as a productive presence within geography’s social scientific endeavours in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is its experimental and expansive engagement with different philosophical texts, the perspectives therein on art and science, and the grounded soundings that act within the world. This chapter is then a short treatise towards non-representational thinking which approaches the non-representational from the standpoint of the event, and understands this through the task, and the politics, of theorizing or at least thinking the singular (see Hallward (1998) for a critical overview of such an approach in Badiou). Part of this project is to play up the importance of philosophy in our social scientific engagements as we scan back and forth to the humanities and sciences, always remembering that as a geographer we cannot forget that this pivots off from a topographic, phenomenological position of being in the world – philosophy doesn’t take the higher ground, rather it is put to work on the ground. Non-representational theory is then about an ontology of sense that is also materialist and concrete and that pivots off the belief that prior to the distinction between ideality and materiality sense comes about as a bodily event, ‘as an opening up of meaningful spaces and a meaningful world’ (James, 2006: 107). Ideal distinctions, of identity for example, are thus only thinkable as such after such constitutive openings. In terms of philosophy the emphasis here is in thinking through the ontological, of having a sense of what being as such is and that this is different from our actual existence in the world. Explicitly here I am pushing for the understanding that philosophical thought (thinking) and lived empirics (being) are mutually constitutive. Our experience is often given meaning
and orientation through the representational logic of language and signification, but we run the danger of forgetting the world itself; too often word and world get segued together. So the unenviable undertaking of non-representational theory is to affirm life in an intelligible manner in a way that thinks matter and movement despite having ‘no language to express what is in becoming’ (Klossowki 2005, 38). Thus the arguments in this chapter claim that non-representational theory has only just begun and that the agendas, passions, and interventions crafted out of the genealogy of concepts, technological practices, and fleshy performatives underwriting the work done under the name have a vibrant and vital future.